Destined to be Together

Lady Antebellum’s story of rejection, homemade drums and a big leap of faith led them down the path they were meant to follow—to each other.

Country Weekly recently sat down with Dave Haywood, Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum to talk about their early years, before Lady A and before their debut Top 15 hit with “Love Don’t Live Here.” Here’s some of what they had to say.

For more on Lady Antebellum, check out the May 5 issue of Country Weekly.

Hillary Scott

CW
Is there a disadvantage in having grown up here in Nashville and having the family you had? As opposed to being someone like your mom [Singer Linda Davis], who packed up everything and took that huge leap of faith, moving from Texas, going to a new town? Did you miss anything by not doing that?
HS
Yes and no. My mom had a fearlessness about her that is just so . . . beautiful. I think when you’re raised in a town like this, like Nashville, and everything you need, all the people, all the tools are here for what I want to do. There were times growin’ up when I thought, “Oh, I’d love to live in LA or New York,” but this is home. I was meant to be here.
CW
What about your dad [musician, producer, entrepreneur Lang Scott]? What have you gotten from him?
HS
He is, first of all, so unbelievably supportive. But he also is very good about helping me see the other side of a situation. He’s very good at looking at different perspectives and thinking things through, not making rash decisions. And sittin’ on it a little bit and thinkin’ about it a little while before you make decisions.
CW
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever been through?
HS
Gosh, it’s between the heartbreak of not getting signed the first time, just learning from that . . . just going through that. And then also, just getting my heart broken for the first time. I was 20. It’s been in the past year and a half . . . during Lady Antebellum. So that probably is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through.
CW
Still recovering?
HS
No! [She laughs] I wrote all of it out, and a lot of the songs are on our record. I got it all out. Honestly, I look back now and I’m so thankful for the experience and for how it all turned out. Because who I am now, I think I’ve grown as a person. I’ve just really grown. A bad thing turned into a positive thing. So, it took a while, but I’m back! [She turns up her beer] Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Charles Kelley

CW
Tell me about the homemade drums.
CK
[My brother John] brought this guitar home [from college] and left it for a couple weeks. And I remember Josh picked it up and he started playing. And I was like, “Well, I need to do something.” So I remember goin’ down and grabbin’ one of those big popcorn cans . . . remember with three dividers? And I would take the plastic off a Trapper Keeper notebook. I put it on top of it and duct-taped around it and created a couple drums that way. And I put two plastic plates together, and it was kind of like a high hat, so I had that.
So, basically, we kind of just rigged up this little system. And we would play around. We’re from Augusta, Georgia, and a lot of people there rent out their houses for the Masters. And I remember, before she rented the house out, she had to take down the drums. She tore ‘em up and threw ‘em away. And I came home and I was so mad, so upset. I was 12.
And I was so upset, not realizing that her plan was to take us to the music store. So she takes us to the music store and buys me a set of drums and Josh a new electric guitar and amp and stuff. And so we started a band and we played all through middle school and high school. Eventually, I started playing drums and singing at the same time in a group called Inside Blue.
CW
Being from Augusta, the home of the Masters, do you play golf? Isn’t it the law in Augusta—you have to play golf if you live there?
CK
You do. We all did. My oldest brother John was an amazing golfer. He was a pro for a while and played at Wake Forest. Growin’ up, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be a golfer or a musician. Eventually, music kind of took over. But golf was my number one passion—played all the time, used to travel all around doing tournaments. When I got into high school, I kinda lost the desire for it.

Dave Haywood

CW
Charles says you played in the jazz band with his brother, Josh. When was that?
DH
I was in the 9th and 10th grade. So I was 14 and 15. I played electric guitar. There were two electric guitar spots in the high school jazz band. I tried out and made it, and the other guy who made it was Charles’ brother, Josh Kelley. So every Wednesday after school, we’d have rehearsal. Just playing straight up minor jazz kind of tunes. I learned a lot. It was full horns, saxophones, trumpets, trombones. It was a big one.
Josh would show me a lot of stuff, and he’d always steal my guitar picks and chew on ‘em the whole rehearsal. And he was never rehearsed. He’d walk in and ask me, “What key are we in? What do we play?” At night at home, I’d be rehearsing. And he’d just show up. [He laughs] I did more with Josh in high school than I did with Charles.
CW
Remember the first song you ever wrote?
DH
I wrote a song for a youth group sing in 6th grade that we played at this youth camp. The middle school band I was in; we were called Overcast. But we wrote a song for the camp, it was called “Found.” It was like the first two chords I learned on the guitar. It was so bad.
I’ve always just been obsessed with music and instruments and the way instruments work together and how to create melodies and how to make arrangements. I’ve always loved that. I remember what I would do a lot in middle school, right when I learned guitar and started picking up on bass guitar and drums and a little mandolin . . . I would always make these little mix tapes for my mom. It would be just instrumental stuff, or me singing some horrible song. I’d always loved the whole band thing, trying to play as much as I could. I’d make these little tapes for my mom that she’s listen to in the car. I’ve always been obsessed with production and putting stuff together and the way an arrangement can make somebody feel and chords can make somebody go to a certain place.

For more on Lady Antebellum, check out the May 5 issue of Country Weekly.

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